Olympian Dominique Moceanu has lived many lessons since winning gymnastics gold with the Magnificent Seven in 1996. Now she’s mom, a businesswoman, a John Carroll graduate.

“Sometimes I blink and I can’t believe that it’s been 20 years. When people say, ‘Oh, it’s our 20-year anniversary this year,’ people are like ’20 years?!’ I don’t feel that old. And it’s good.”

“14 years old, to be in the Olympics, was certainly something that was special, and for many reasons, I have so many mixed emotions about that time in my life,” she said. “Gymnastics was my outlet. Gymnastics was something I loved, and then it grew into something I wanted to make a future of. So then it became my job. Then I wanted to go the Olympics and win medals, so then it became really serious for me.”

Her career made history as the youngest U.S. champion gymnast, but it also brought out the worst in people close to her, separating from her parents at 17.

We're starting a new series Thursdays on Channel 3 News at 6 about the women in Northeast Ohio's communities who make things happen. These are women who see the possible, women you'd like to have in your group, women we’re bringing into Sara’s Circle.

Sara Shookman's circle
Sara Shookman's circle

“I think trust for a long time, and even to some degree now, but I know my inner circle so well, but for a while, trust was very difficult because I was too trusting when I was little,” she said. “I wasn’t even taught of the dangers of too much trust.”

“When I found my husband, it was a really, really great time to have him come into my life as far as being a partner in my life,” she said. “A lot of people were there for ulterior motives. He was the first one that I really gained trust with.”

Dr. Michael Canales, an Ohio State national champion gymnast himself, brought Dominique to Cleveland, where he was in medical school.

“I packed up my apartment, drove here, 23 hours straight from Houston to Cleveland, I was so scared to stop at a hotel by myself in the middle of the night, so I drove straight through. I just kept going,” she remembers. “The rest is kind of history, I’ve been here ever since, fifteen years now.”

“Gymnastics brought us together. Gymnastics brings my kids together. It’s like the circle of life, now back to this next generation,” said Moceanu.

“Our son has a tremendous passion, and he’s already years ahead of where I was at his age. And he’s only 7,” she said. “My husband and I are like, ‘Oh boy,’ we’re going to be in for a ride. But our main goal is to protect him. To keep him from burning out. To keep him healthy. To keep him longing for that passion and loving the sport all the way through.”

She wants to make sure Vince, and his sister, Carmen, learn from mom's lessons, in and out of the gym.

Dominique has a jewelry business now, and spends a lot of her time speaking to women and other groups to share her advice. She's going to be at her alma mater on Tuesday, right on John Carroll's campus. You can find out more or register for the event here.

Where you’ll find her gold medal

“After 18 years of keeping my memorabilia and awards and trophies in storage, I have my Olympic gold medal in a nice trophy case that I created in my basement. I have all my awards there...I left a space for my husband, too, so that’s kind of our area of excellence. Our kids are looking at that, to what mommy and daddy accomplished in their lives and what they continue to accomplish.”

On her newest goal

“Life is really good. I’ve set some new physical goals this year. I’ve done workouts this year that I’ve never done before, really. I’ve started Tabata yoga, yoga beats, the barre, my flexibility, my mobility is coming back.”

On her jewelry business

“I want to empower women, but I also want to glam them up. Make them feel good about themselves. What better way than to offer jewelry as well and expand my brand? When I put my mind to something, there’s no looking back, it’s like ‘Okay, I’m going.’ Six months later, I was up and running with the business.”

Why she wrote her memoir, Off Balance

“I know, I always kind of laugh. I was 30 years old and I had a memoir of my life story. I’m like, that’s not really enough time. But I think I lived a couple lifetimes during that period… I wanted to tell people what actually happened in the most raw, and truest way that I could. And that to me was extremely important.”

How to find happiness

“Ultimately finding what fulfills you in life...because fulfillment you can equate to happiness. And I think, just having women believe that they are worth something. Worth a value. And only they can place that value on themselves and not believing what other people say you are.”

Why she sees the possible

“What you put out in the universe is what comes back to you. Whether that’s positive energy or negative energy. Put that positive energy out there. Do good. Do things that make you feel good, and for other people and it will come back to you.”